December 22/2013


Bible Quotation for today/Cautions & Directions
The Letter from Jude 1/17-23: "But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They said to you that “In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.”  These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, keep building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. On some have compassion, making a distinction,  and some save, snatching them out of the fire with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh."


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For December 22/13

Dead-end rhetoric/The Daily Star/December 22/13

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For December 22/13

Lebanese Related News

Sliman Meets Salam over Cabinet Formation, Jumblat Reiterates Support for Inclusive Gov't

Syrian Ambassador Lashes Out at Demands to Expel him

Halqi: Lebanese Government Meddled in Syrian Affairs

Nasrallah, Jumblatt weigh in on Fairouz fallout

Nasrallah raises stakes in political standoff

Scenes of gore from Beirut slaughterhouse

Syria PM says Lebanon partly to blame for Syrian crisis

Residents of unsafe building protest in Tripoli

Financial sector shields Lebanon

One Killed, Five Wounded in Akkar Armed Dispute

Mansour: Israel's Demarcation of Maritime Border Threatens Regional Stability, Produces No Legal Consequences

Israeli Military Carries Out Drills Near Border Town of Maroun al-Ras

Extraordinary Security Measures throughout Lebanon during Holiday Season

Military Conscript Killed, His Brother Wounded in Individual Dispute in West Bekaa

EU Delegation Calls on Foes to Abide by Dissociation Policy, Formation of Cabinet

Report: Suleiman Knows Lebanon Cannot Tolerate De Facto Cabinet

Report: Israel Seeking to Demarcate Maritime Border in Areas Disputed with Lebanon

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Italy FM starts Iran visit on rare EU mission
Syrian rebels seize strategic hospital in Aleppo

Body of British doctor arrives in Lebanon from Syria

Syrian photographer killed in Aleppo

$28 million donated for Syria refugees in UAE

African Union calls for Christmas truce in S. Sudan

Erdogan says foreign plot behind graft probe

Iraqi militants kill at least 18 soldiers, including commander

When will we have a Palestinian vision for the future?

South Sudan is too divided, too impatient and too fragile

US and Israeli officers in mediation bid to avert South Sudan civil war


Suleiman Meets Salam over Cabinet Formation, Jumblat Reiterates Support for Inclusive Gov't
Naharnet Newsdesk 21 December 2013/President Michel Suleiman met on Saturday evening with the Prime Minister-designate at Baabda palace, and the talks tackled the ongoing consultations over the cabinet's formation.
Tammam Salam's sources told al-Manar television later in the day that the PM-designate has “no comments” on Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's latest statement on the formation of the council of ministers.
In a speech he gave on Friday, Nasrallah said: “There is no such thing as a neutral cabinet in Lebanon as there are no longer any neutral candidates.”The Shiite leader also warned against the formation of a de facto government, saying: “We do not advise anyone to take such a step.”He therefore suggested the formation of a national unity government, which “will ensure Lebanon's salvation.”In a related matter, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat told al-Manar that he supports the formation of an inclusive cabinet, endorsing also a 9-9-6 formula. Jumblat stated as well that the parliament must convene within constitutional deadlines to elect a new president.
“Vacuum is the most dangerous thing we can get to,” the National Struggle Front head warned according to al-Manar, stating his rejection to extending the head of the state's mandate. Meanwhile, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati's sources told the Hizbullah-affiliated TV station that he wants a cabinet in which all factions participate, “not one that worsens the situation in the country.” Speaker Nabih Berri praised Nasrallah's statement on the council of ministers, saying that it is similar to his own stance and warning of a de facto cabinet. As well, sources close to Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun told the same source that the Change and Reform bloc head demands the formation of a national unity cabinet. "Aoun is against vacuum and mandate extension," they added. Commenting on the 2014 presidential election, the Hizbullah chief remarked on Friday: “We cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a new president on May 25, 2014.”


Syrian Ambassador Lashes Out at Demands to Expel him
Naharnet Newsdesk 21 December 2013/Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdul Karim Ali slammed on Saturday calls by some officials to shut his country's embassy in Lebanon, considering that Beirut has no interest in doing so. “We are keen to maintain deep brotherly ties between the two countries, those who are demanding the shut of the Syrian embassy represent only themselves,” the ambassador told reporters after talks with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun in Rabieh. On Friday, al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Khaled al-Daher accused the Syrian regime of the twin bombing that rocked Tripoli in August. “Those who are behind the bombings are revealed, it's the gang of (Syrian President) Bashar Assad in Lebanon,” Daher added. He pleaded for justice, urging President Michel Suleiman and the government to expel the Syrian ambassador and cutting ties with the neighboring country.
Forty-five people were killed and over 800 wounded in the twin bombings that targeted two mosques in Tripoli. Asked about the conditions of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Ali reiterated that his country “previously warned of the impact of the situation on Lebanon and the region. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 842,000 Syrians have fled to Lebanon since Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011.
Lebanon is hosting the highest number of Syrian refugees in the region, followed by Turkey and Jordan. While both Turkey and Jordan have opened official refugee camps at the borders with Syria, Lebanon's government has refused to do so. Thousands of refugees now live in apartments -- either as relatives' guests or as renters. But thousands of others, who cannot afford the cost of living in Lebanon's cities, shelter in hundreds of informal tent settlements scattered across the country. Ali pointed out that the Syrian government insists that it could find a way out of the crisis if the rest of the people cooperate with it. “If there was any cooperation we would've averted the situation,” the diplomat said, noting that Syria is still reaching its arm for any solution. Ali added that gunmen in Syria are preventing people from returning to their country, calling on neighboring countries to act responsibly.
“The crises are complicated and dangerous and there's a clear intervention by Israel,” he said.


Dead-end rhetoric
December 21, 2013/The Daily Star
The leader of Hezbollah gave another one of his “how dare you?” speeches Friday, ratcheting up political tension in Lebanon while claiming to be interested in turning over a new page with his March 14 rivals.
Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah recited the usual litany of complaints against March 14 politicians, whom he accused of making dangerous accusations about his party. Nasrallah’s outrage is conveniently absent of any assessment of the rhetoric of his own party members and allies, who waste no opportunity to engage in wild accusations about the behavior of their rivals – the language of “treason” is a constant feature of such statements, in the event that Nasrallah hasn’t noticed. It’s a case of Hezbollah’s acting as if it’s on the defensive, when in fact it regularly engages in offensive verbal and other maneuvering. Sprinkled in between Nasrallah’s offers to work together for the national interest are, invariably, the usual ultimatums – the next government in Lebanon will be X, and not Y – period, end of story. “Don’t play with us” is another favorite threat that Nasrallah used on Friday – this is what an armed political party in Lebanon tells the other political actors on the scene, while claiming to be engaged in self-defense. With every speech, both before the eruption of the uprising in Syria and after, Nasrallah talks about the “exceptional circumstances” the region is experiencing. It’s time for Hezbollah to do something exceptional itself, namely make a real effort to arrive at compromise and abandon the policies that have contributed to all of the tension. Otherwise, the speechmaking, exclusive interviews and other media appearances by Nasrallah generate nothing other than empty words and phrases. As for next year’s presidential election, Nasrallah made a plea for a candidate who represents Lebanon and challenged his rivals to act without allowing their decisions to be swayed by the intervention of foreign countries. This kind of empty rhetoric might play well with Hezbollah’s supporters, but it would take a superhuman mental feat to even imagine – for the sake of argument – that Hezbollah would ever stand up and say to Iran, for example, or to Syria: “We reject your ‘choice’” for Lebanon’s next president, we will openly lobby against this choice, and we will vote no in Parliament when the time comes.” Unless Hezbollah undergoes a radical change, there’s no reason to expect that it will act in any way other than keeping one eye, or both, on the interests of its foreign friends and backers. Hezbollah’s leader and his colleagues are quick to talk about being victims and wanting to work together with others for the common good of Lebanon, but the fact that they spend most of their time issuing ultimatums and setting down red lines means that few people bother listening anymore to such dead-end rhetoric.

Nasrallah and Jumblatt weigh in on Fairouz fallout

December 21, 2013/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Comments by composer Ziad Rahbani that his mother, the legendary Fairouz, admired Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah sparked a wave of reactions this week, including from Nasrallah himself.Reactions flooded social media websites, where the news of Rahbani’s comment went viral. Many Lebanese said that Fairouz, who is a national icon, should not openly affiliate with any particular political group. Others, however, said that just like every other Lebanese, Fairouz was free to express her own thoughts and ideas. Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt made clear Friday that his love for the singer remained unchanged. “Fairouz is too great to be criticized, and at the same time too great to be classified as belonging to this or that political camp or to this or that axis,” he said in a statement. “The high-quality art she performed and still performs is far greater than drowning in narrow political and group interests,” Jumblatt added. “Let us keep her in her supreme position and not push her to something she has nothing to do with.”In an interview earlier this week, Rahbani said his mother admired Nasrallah. On Thursday, Rahbani repeated that statement in an interview and said Fairouz supported the Resistance. In an indirect comment on the uproar Friday, Nasrallah alluded to the statement in a speech honoring an assassinated Hezbollah commander. He said Lebanon was witnessing a period when love was banned in the country. “We have reached a stage in the country when somebody says he loves somebody and this could lead to the country’s destruction,” Nasrallah said. “No one is allowed to love.”

Halqi: Lebanese Government Meddled in Syrian Affairs
Naharnet Newsdesk 21 December 2013/Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi stated that the Lebanese government can be held “partially” responsible for the developments in his country, reported al-Akhbar newspaper on Saturday. He told the daily: “The Lebanese government has interfered in Syrian internal affairs.”“Part of what Syria has been a victim of can be attributed to the policies of this government,” he added.
Moreover, he accused the government of failing to disassociate itself from Syria. Halqi explained that the government helped facilitate the infiltration of gunmen into Syria, adding: “Terrorist activity would still be ongoing had it not been for Hizbullah's presence on either side of the Lebanese-Syrian border, especially Syria's al-Qusayr.” Furthermore, the Syrian official said that contacts between the Syrian and Lebanese government's are nonexistent, revealing that the only communication between Syria and Lebanon is taking place with the latter's foreign ministry. “The current relations do not represent the historic history between the two countries,” lamented Halqi.
The Lebanese government has adopted a policy of disassociation from regional developments, especially those in Syria. It adopted the Baabda Declaration in June 2012, which calls for keeping Lebanon away from regional conflicts. Hizbullah has however acknowledged that it is involved in the fighting in Syria alongside the country's regime against what it called extremist takfiri groups.


Report: Israel Seeking to Demarcate Maritime Border in Areas Disputed with Lebanon
Naharnet Newsdesk 21 December 2013/Lebanese officials warned against Israel taking any “unilateral” steps in demarcating its maritime border in the areas near Lebanon, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday.
Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth daily said that Israel is seeking to demarcate the maritime border in the area disputed with Lebanon through a draft law that will be proposed at the Knesset. President Michel Suleiman's circles told As Safir that Lebanon will not recognize any “unilateral” Israeli action in this matter, stressing that the demarcation should abide by international rules. “Israel's action should serve as a central unifying force for the Lebanese people that should drive them to fulfill all pending issues, especially the formation of a new government,” they added. Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri told As Safir that the United Nations should tackle demarcating the maritime border as it did the Blue Line land border between Lebanon and Israel. The demarcation of the maritime border is included in U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, he noted. “What is the purpose of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon's navy if it cannot demarcate the maritime border?” wondered the speaker. Commenting on the dispute, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati stressed that Lebanon is committed to demarcating the border of the Exclusive Economic Zone. He warned of Israel's escalation if it goes ahead with adopting the law, demanding that the United States and U.N. take the necessary measures to confront the repercussions of this issue.
Head of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad condemned Israel's action, calling on the people to remain diligent and protect their country's complete sovereignty. “Theoretical and diplomatic slogans alone will not prevent Israel's assault,” he warned. “Lebanon enjoys all means to deter Israel,” he said. Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour remarked that Israel is trying to create a crisis with Lebanon through attempting to demarcate its maritime border. “There are several methods to confront its action, starting with diplomatic and political efforts and even the act of resistance,” he added. In November, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy Amos Hochstein proposed the demarcation of the two countries maritime border by establishing a “maritime Blue line,” similar to the U.N.-drawn Blue Line that separates southern Lebanon and northern Israel, where the disputed zones would not be exploited by any of the two countries until the demarcation ends. Oil and gas investments would kick off in the meantime in the undisputed areas, according to an understanding between the two sides. Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a maritime zone that consists of about 854 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves there could generate billions of dollars.

South Sudan is too divided, too impatient and too fragile

By: Islam Altayeb/Asharq Alawsat
The South Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which has governed South Sudan since its premature secession from Sudan in 2011, is in serious crisis. Earlier this week, President Salva Kiir declared that an armed “coup attempt” by his sacked vice president, Riek Machar, had been foiled. Unless stopped, the violent power grab has the potential to exacerbate South Sudan’s own ethnic fault lines, setting it on the course to becoming the world’s first state to fail almost as soon as it was created.
The SPLM’s monopoly on political legitimacy, which arose from its revolutionary struggle during decades of civil war with Sudan, has positioned it above other factions in the country. Backed with the inherited moral authority of its late leader, Dr. John Garang, SPLM’s prestigious status enabled it at first to accommodate an array of vested interests and establish an economic order in a climate of national support and jubilation.
Less than two years on, national patience has worn thin. Growing apathy and discontent with the scope and pace of economic change is on the rise. Poverty levels are alarming, and economic inequality is further fueled by high unemployment, state incompetence and unbridled corruption. Government efforts to implement austerity measures and control spending taken since April 2012, coupled with slow progress in expanding housing, electricity and social services, have exacerbated these tensions.
The SPLM government has been struggling to cope, but there is growing concern about its capacity to govern. South Sudan’s most pressing development measures are being watered down by mismanagement and weak governance. The much-needed expansion of infrastructure is being hindered by political favoritism and rampant corruption. The oil industry is notoriously opaque, and there are serious concerns about where the oil money goes. An unsolicited 4.5 billion US dollar debt from an unknown source that was spent in an undisclosed way is adding to the recent controversy. President Kiir himself has called on his government officials to return stolen cash in the past. Bluntly, the former SPLM secretary-general, Pagan Amum, admitted that whatever the government has achieved is a “drop in the ocean of Southern Sudan’s needs,’ and that corruption remains a real obstacle.
President Kiir’s monopoly on power has allowed the trust deficit to grow over the years. Deep-seated divisions within its leadership, exacerbated by Kiir’s authoritarian tendencies and the dysfunctional organizational structure, have been destabilizing. Under the pretext of responding to popular frustrations, President Kiir removed his main political rivals, Vice-President Machar and SPLM Secretary-General Amum, as well as his Cabinet, many of whose members had been on the receiving end of corruption accusations. But the political crisis extends beyond that. President Kiir threatened to dissolve the national parliament unless it supported his nomination of James Wani Igga as the new vice president. Lawmakers unanimously endorsed the nomination, mostly to avoid dividing the country further. Upon Machar’s announcement that he was interested in running for the presidency in next year’s elections, Kiir announced that the elections might be delayed due to a lack of funds.
Beyond the divided SPLM, ethnic passions are peaking across South Sudan. Violent tribal clashes are on the rise as more disempowered citizens demand noticeable economic improvements and political representation. While the crisis is not ethnic in itself, its ripple effects are stirring ethnic tensions given that Kiir, a Dinka, and Macher, a Nuer, belong to two different ethnic groups that have a history of embitterment and rivalry. Without an inclusive conciliatory tone and curbs to the reported brutality of the SPLA in crushing dissent, Kiir will further alienate tribal leaders and rebel commanders, as well as ordinary people from the areas where inter- and intra-tribal fighting is most common.
This is important. The behavior of security forces since South Sudan’s independence, including the reported targeted ethnic killings, is fueling the rebellion and a general sense of resentment of the government. To no-one’s surprise, long-term transition in South Sudan will depend on the capacity of its political (dis)order to rein in and reform the security sectors, including the SPLA, internal security apparatuses and guerilla forces. Those are the very groups that have grown too powerful, too brutal and too autonomous.
The SPLM’s future as a political force rests squarely on how Kiir contains the current political crisis. With the rise of tribalism, short-term military victory will hardly translate into long-term tangible political gains. The SPLM’s own legitimacy has been tainted as its leaders drive the country through the motions of civil unrest in their quest for power. If the SPLM manages to exist from the current crisis, its overwhelming priority will be to maintain political dominance in the 2014 elections. However, having gained the reputation of a corruption-plagued government that divides rather than unites, it needs to replenish its political capital. The SPLM may be tempted to focus on short-term measures and patronage to regain pubic confidence and garner votes, which will risk dragging the country once more into a political crisis. Undeniably, it will be difficult to prevent pockets of civil unrest and violence from shaking investor confidence.
The way out of the crisis is unclear. The longer the insurgency lasts, the wider the criminal dimension and prospect of radicalization becomes. Kiir and Machar disagree over how to proceed. South Sudan’s neighbors are even more divided on what to do, and the armed factions within South Sudan have yet more divergent aims. As South Sudan disintegrates, there is little that the foreign or regional community alone can or will do to end the power grab. South Sudan is in dire need of responsible leadership—otherwise, it could plunge into a full-blown civil war, and perhaps even spark a regional crisis.

When will we have a Palestinian vision for the future?

By: Bakir Oweida/Asharq Alawsat
In the sci-fi film Land of the Lost, scientist Rick Marshall says in a sad voice that he is a coward who is afraid of declaring his scientific theory publicly. His smartest student, Holly Cantrell, replies: “No, you are not a coward, you are a man of vision,” and persuades him to share with her the adventure of looking for a lost land and a lost people. Despite many difficulties and obstacles, they find them.
There is a divide between visionaries who fear people’s reactions and visionaries willing to make decisions that might shock others. Of course, this division varies from one person to another, and from one era to another. But until the visionary with courage and who is able to be decisive and challenging comes along, hesitation is the status quo.
This is the effect of the divisions between Palestinian leaders on the majority of the people, and it’s worse than last week’s snowstorm in the region.
Must Palestinians pay for the changing loyalties of their leaders? Is their fate to pay for changes in alliances and the conflict of interests among certain allies?
The simple answer is yes. The evidence is there in the history books. Examples include the decision by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al-Husseini, to take Hitler’s side, under the illusion that a Nazi victory would lead to justice for the Palestinians in their fight against the British Balfour Declaration. Then there is the support of the leaders of some Palestinian factions—and not only Yasser Arafat—for Saddam Hussein’s disastrous invasion of Kuwait, because they believed in opposing foreign intervention in Arab affairs and that the Iraqi president would win any war he started—and if that were true, they thought it could only be beneficial to the Palestinian issue.
Between the eruption of the Second World War and the end of the Cold War, leaders of the various Palestinian factions lit the fuse that caused infighting between innocent parties who sacrificed their lives on the orders of their leaders. Some of these leaders later lived a life of luxury. The streets of Amman and other Jordanian cities, as well as those in Lebanon, witnessed those events, where differences were settled with assassinations. Then Palestinian blood was spilt by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank while the Palestinian independence project was still in its infancy.
When history writes the story of the Palestinian tragedy objectively and impartially, the likelihood is that it will include many serious questions about the behaviour of leading officials at various stages, who put the interest of their parties and their personal loyalties—even their personal interests in some cases—ahead of the interests of Palestinians, as a people and as an issue.
Yes, Palestinians welcomed the launch of Fatah in early 1965, as it was seen as a new start following the wreckage of the diaspora camps. Despite the movement’s initial pledge not to interfere in the internal affairs of Arab states, it became drawn into the arena of Arab conflicts soon after the defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in 1967. As the movement enjoyed the euphoria that followed the first Palestinian–Israeli confrontation in the Jordanian town of Karama, Fatah became a main player, known as the “unknown quantity,” intent on securing a foothold in the Arab arena.
Other organizations had ideological affiliations and were linked to specific regimes, and therefore it was not difficult to drag most of the constituents of Palestinian resistance into interfering in the internal affairs of more than one Arab country. The result, of course, was entering into bone-breaking wars and paying the price for them.
The international responsibility for the Palestinian tragedy—from the Basel Conference in Switzerland in 1897 to the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and through to the end of the British mandate to facilitate the creation of Israel in 1948—precedes by a long time, and greatly exceeds in terms of damage, Palestinian leaders’ responsibility for what happened to their own people from the mid-1960s to the present day.
The former was a result of a conspiracy with understandable motives at a time when the interests of all the participating parties coincided. So what would be Palestinian leaders’ justification now, if they were asked why they failed to understand the interests of their people, or why they failed to deal flexibly with changes on the ground during various events, especially after the October War in 1973? Some might say each event has its own circumstances, and that what may seem to be possible now may also have been impossible then. This is true, but what enables a leader to lead is having qualities others lack, such as being able to use their popularity to take action that seems impossible, or even forbidden, but which stems from a vision capable of being appreciated by future generations. For example, we can say that the Palestinian leadership, instead of chasing an independent decision in the diaspora could have insisted that Jordan and Egypt should remain responsible for the liberation of the West Bank and Gaza, in keeping with United Nations Resolution 242 and in adherence to the rights of two states with full membership of the UN.After that, the establishment of a Palestinian state would have become an Arab issue. However, such a stance required the courage to announce a future Palestinian vision, instead of wasting more time and more land and fighting over what has yet to be lost.

US and Israeli officers in mediation bid to avert South Sudan civil war

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 20, 2013/The US and, more discreetly, Israel are working together to prevent the world’s newest state, South Sudan, slipping over what President Barack Obama called “the precipice of civil war,” as clashes in the capital Juba spread Thursday, Dec, 19, across the country. Some 400-600 people have died in the tribal and ethnic warfare since last weekend, when President Salva Kiira accused his ousted deputy Riek Machar of a failed coup. US and Israeli officers were trying to restore discipline to the South Sudanese army and pursuing a mediation effort to reconcile the quarrel that has triggered brutal warfare between the president’s Dinka tribe and Machar’s Nuer ethnic group. The bloody clashes have put 100,000 people to flight from their homes. More than 30,000 refugees have reached the camps of the UN Mission in South Sudan at Akobo, in Jonglei state, where Thursday two Indian peacekeepers were killed in an attack on the compound. Obama said 45 US military personnel had been deployed to South Sudan Wednesday to protect American citizens and property. Israel has been cagey about its activities in the new republic. However, debkafile’s intelligence sources report that a large party of IDF officers and intelligence experts, some of them IDF reservists, arrived in Juba Thursday, ready to use their years of association with the president and his ex-deputy in pre-independence South Sudan to help resolve their differences. The American-Israeli plan is to attach to Kiir and Machar the Israeli officers they know and personally trust as former advisers for an attempt to mark out common ground between them in the interests of national and tribal reconciliation.
The US-Israeli operation therefore has as two urgent goals:
1. To lay the foundations for negotiations between the president and his deputy who was sacked with the rest of the governing cabinet in July.
2. To restore discipline to the divided army and put a stop to the bloody battles waged between soldiers of the Dinka and Nuer tribes and prevent their division into two hostile armies.
If these two goals can be accomplished, it may be possible to prevent the conflict tipping over into outright civil war, a peril which began looming large Thursday, Dec. 19, when Machar’s Nueri tribal troops captured the town of Bor 200 kilometers north of Juba.
Money is needed to oil the wheels of reconciliation and so Secretary of State John Kerry announced from the Philippines Thursday night that Washington was transferring $25 million to South Sudan for promoting stability. It was then that the US-Israeli mediation bid began to take off. President Kiir said: “I am ready for dialogue with anyone who is willing.”His former deputy Marchar replied: “There was no coup. What took place in Juba was a misunderstanding between presidential guards with their division.” A misunderstanding between president guards, he implied, was no reason for war or even a falling-out with the president.However, according to debkafile’s sources, it is still early days and the reconciliation process is fragile enough to be blown over by some unforeseen happening. South Sudan gained its independence in 2011 after 22 years of fighting the Sudanese government in the north. Its path to independence was laid in 2005 when President George Bush brought Gen. Omar Bachir’s government in Khartoum to sign an agreement for the country’s partition.
President Kiir has maintained close ties with the United States and Israel, depending on their assistance and advice for helping the new republic stand on its feet.
The South has acquired strategic importance for America as an important base and an obstacle in the path of the spread of Al Qaeda and radical Islamic influence out from Khartoum. It is provides the US with a foothold on the western shore of the Red Sea, opposite a mainline Saudi oil route from the Persian Gulf via the Suez Canal. Israel’s close ties with South Sudan’s Christians go back 50 years and were often expressed in financial aid, diplomatic support, military training and weapons. One of the constants of Israel’s foreign policy under all its governments has been to cultivate friendships with fellow non-Muslim enclaves on the African continent - and especially on its eastern coast. South Sudan also controls most of the country’s oil reserves and some of the sources of the Nile River, Egypt’s lifeline. The focus of Israel’s interests in this region tends to fluctuate. At present, its presence in South Sudan is useful for keeping track of the spread of Iranian influence in that part of the continent - most pressingly, to keep an eye on the construction of an Iranian naval and logistic base on the Red Sea coast of northern Sudan. Together with this base, Tehran was enaled to establish outside Khartoum an industrial complex for the manufacture of arms, including missiles. From Sudan, these products have relatively short supply routes to Iran’s terrorist arms and allies, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami.